Yesterday I urged that we start using new examples of nanotechnology applications when we are discussing the impact of nanotechnology.
While I am sure we would like to hear how nanotechnology has finally made possible a quantum computer, or that there are actually today little nanorobots circulating through our bloodstream curing us of diseases.Unfortunately I cannot report to you today on anything like these examples. But if you’re like me and you have had a root canal in your life, and you now live in fear that you may have to undergo that medically sanctioned torture session again, I have good news.
It seems a team of European researchers have developed a nano-scale film that can be coated with a hormone that is used to fight inflammation and found when they put the film onto cells that make up dental pulp it not only reduced inflammation but also encouraged new cell growth. Now as my dentist explained my root canal to me, the decay of the tooth had gone so deep that it had gone into the pulp of the tooth. If he had simply put a filling in the tooth, the pulp would be forever exposed causing nearly constant pain from the nerves. The solution has been to kill every last nerve in the tooth—the fun part of the root canal. With this nano-structured mechanism, which was originally reported in the American Chemical Society’s ACS Nano Journal you won’t need to kill the tooth, just revitalize it.
But in the publication cited above where I first read of this development they wonder whether this is just another expensive procedure that dentists will foist upon us. No doubt it will be, but it sounds as though it would be a good deal more pleasant than killing all the nerves in your tooth.
Dexter Johnson is a contributing editor at IEEE Spectrum, with a focus on nanotechnology.
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